The perils of mindless eating can be many: too much food, eaten too rapidly, followed by a sense that you’ve gleaned no enjoyment from what you’ve eaten. Sound familiar? That’s why mindful eating is increasingly trumpeted as a means to achieve a healthier relationship with the food we eat.
But in a time when were increasingly multitasking and eating on the go, being cognizant of what you swallow is not always easy. Here are some steps to help you eat with more sanity, self-kindness and enjoyment by being present at the moment.
- Press Pause Take a second or two before considering a meal or snack to ponder how famished you actually are. You’ll be less likely to misinterpret sensations like tiredness or emotions such as anxiety or true hunger. If a chicken and kale salad sound amazing, chances are you are truly hungry and should eat. A sudden urge to raid the cookie jar likely signals external causes of hunger.
- Unplug It should be no surprise that watching TV or thumbing thru your phone while eating is the antithesis of mindful eating. Distracted eating does not give your brain the chance to register pleasure from what is on your plate or that you’ve had enough to eat. You may end up eating more calories than you need and still feel unsatisfied.
- Chew a Lot Too many people eat their meals and snacks on autopilot. But eating at a slower pace is a key practice of mindful eating and it helps keep calorie intake in check. Savor each bite for several seconds and really appreciate the flavor, aroma and textural nuances of the food that you’re eating. This gives your body a better chance to recognize satiety signals, not to mention the pleasure you receive.
- Take a Seventh Inning Stretch About halfway through a meal, put down your utensils and check in to see how satisfied you are with your meal. The goal is to stop eating when you’ve already taken great pleasure in the food you’ve eaten and your stomach is comfortably full.
- Be Picky If it isn’t thrilling, don’t eat it!
- Put Food on Display Spooning food straight from a container does not let you be mindful of the portions you’re serving yourself. No matter what you’re eating, place it on a plate or bowl.
- Be Compassionate Towards yourself, that is. Because the practice of mindful eating is about taking pleasure in foods, no edibles are off limits. So don’t beat yourself up for eating a pint of ice cream in one sitting. The more you chastise yourself, the more stress you’ll build up, which will only make you crave more. Take a moment to reflect on the factors that brought on your eating experience.
- Look on the Bright Side Before grabbing for that muffin in the break room, take a moment and think about the benefits of avoiding an unhealthy food.